Controlling and reducing emissions is vitally important to our environment and our business. Efficient and effective operations improve our environmental performance, risk management, regulatory compliance and shareholder returns.
Air emissions performance management
Devon’s Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Steering Committee reviews our air emissions performance and programs in the context of an evolving regulatory, legal and stakeholder landscape. The Steering Committee communicates current and emerging issues to our senior leaders for consideration in risk management and regulatory and legal compliance.
Our cross-functional Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS) Council works closely with the ESG Steering Committee and senior leaders to ensure implementation of our strategy to improve environmental performance, including our operational programs to reduce air emissions.
Our U.S. environmental program includes an air-quality protocol that clearly defines responsibilities and requirements for communications, compliance, recordkeeping and training.
Compliance with all applicable federal and state environmental laws and regulations is at the core of our EHS Philosophy. We have a compliance process to ensure our employees meet the requirements of Devon’s air permits in our operating areas. In addition, to ensure our operations comply with air permit requirements, we use an innovative web-enabled database that quickly distributes requirements for new and modified air permits to the people directly responsible for compliance.
Devon facilities and equipment may at times emit gases such as volatile organic compounds (VOC) or nitrogen oxide (NOx) that are subject to state permits or emissions-authorization limits. Requirements are clearly communicated to our operating facilities to ensure we maintain compliance with the relevant permits or limits. Some Devon facilities are subject to annual emissions inventories, which we submit to the appropriate regulatory agencies. In states where these inventories are required, the information is publicly available.
2018 air emissions methodologies and performance
As part of our continuous improvement culture, Devon is improving our air emissions performance in a variety of ways. We’ve steadily progressed our voluntary leak detection and repair program, in part by expanding it to include valves, pumps and other equipment. Methodically identifying and fixing leaks has largely resolved the highest-risk issues and reduced our methane emissions over time.
By visiting sites and using infrared camera technology, we continue to learn and incorporate best practices in facility design, equipment improvements and preventive maintenance to further reduce emissions from our facilities. For example, we take steps to ensure closed-vent systems and control devices are designed and installed properly. This includes conducting engineering and pre-startup reviews.
Engines that use diesel fuel to power drilling rigs and hydraulic fracturing operations are a significant source of emissions. We’ve started using engines that run on compressed natural gas (CNG), liquefied natural gas (LNG) or fuel gas instead of diesel, which lowers emissions, as well as noise and our overall operational footprint. We’ll continue to look at alternative fuels, new technologies and other methods to reduce air emissions.
In 2019, we assembled a cross-functional team to evaluate new and emerging emission-detection technologies. These include expanding the capabilities of optical gas imaging(OGI) cameras, sensor-based continuous monitoring, facility flyovers and even remote detection using satellites.